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A man in a cangue in Shanghai, circa 1870. The label usually listed the offender's name, address, and nature of the crime. The offender had to rely on passersby for food. (Photo by John Thomson).
Classical Chinese name
Salle des Martyrs at the Paris Foreign Missions Society. The ladder-like apparatus in the middle is the cangue that was worn by Pierre Borie in captivity.

A cangue (/kæŋ/) is a device that was used for public humiliation and corporal punishment in China[1][2] and some other parts of East Asia and Southeast Asia until the early years of the twentieth century. It was also occasionally used for or during torture. Because it restricted a person's movements, it was common for people wearing cangues to starve to death as they were unable to feed themselves.

It was similar to the pillory used for punishment in the West, except that the board of the cangue was not fixed to a base, and had to be carried around by the prisoner.[1]


Although there are many different forms, a typical cangue would consist of a large, heavy flat board with a hole in the center large enough for a person's neck. The board consisted of two pieces. These pieces were closed around a prisoner's neck, and then fastened shut along the edges by locks or hinges. The opening in the center was large enough for the prisoner to breathe and eat, but not large enough for a head to slip through. The prisoner was confined in the cangue for a period of time as a punishment. The size and especially weight were varied as a measure of severity of the punishment. The Great Ming Legal Code (大明律) published in 1397 specified that a cangue should be made from seasoned wood and weigh 25, 20 or 15 jīn (roughly 20–33 lb or 9–15 kg) depending on the nature of the crime involved. Often the cangue was large enough that the prisoner required assistance to eat or drink, as his hands could not reach his own mouth.

The word "cangue" is French, from the Portuguese "canga," which means yoke-that carrying tool has also been used to the same effect, with the hands tied to each arm of the yoke. In contemporary Standard Chinese it is called a 木枷 "mù jīa",[1] or a 枷鎖 "jiā suǒ".


  1. ^ a b c Jamyang Norbu, Its Chinese name is typically rendered in Latin script at tcha. From Darkness to Dawn, site, May 19, 2009.
  2. ^  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cangue". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.